"It's the little things that count."
How many bazillion times have I heard that? How many times have I heard that applied from dieting to gift-giving to living? Well I am here to attest to the fact that I experience how much the small things count almost every day. They are the things tht keep me going, keep me drawing breath when I think of the grand futility of us, of the human race, this mess we've made on our planet, of where we are headed.
But if it all so futile, then why is there so much joy and so much pain? Another argument for the journey and not the destination.
Teddy died this morning. Our little teddy bear hamster who was notorious for running so long and fast on his wheel that it would start to squeak and one of us would have to get up in the middle of the night to put a drop of vegetable oil on it with a paintbrush stolen from the kids art supplies. ( "No, honey, I have no idea why your watercolor painting turned out like that." *cough* *ahem*) It wasn't too bad this time because we knew it was coming. Teddy died of old age. We thought he was really in dire straights aroound Vi's birthday and I was smacking my head against the wall because that's all you need to have happen on your kid's birthday is for one of the beloved family pets to die. So, I covered his cage with a towel- not completely but enough to protect him from any drafts and put his cage on a heating pad. He stopped fussing so uch with his nest and bedding and would just curl up cosy and happy in a little hollow in his warm bedding where he mostly stayed except to come out and eat the occasional treats and drink his water. I woul often stop and offer him water so he woudn't have to get up. We left him alone for the most part because even though hamsters are cute and fuzzy, they are not the most partial to be held and snuggled unless you did that alot with them.
I did that alot with Maddie, so it only seemed fitting that she died snuggled up in my hands, against my chest as I dozed off after a long vigil. Maddy was hard for me because there was just something about her- she would always come out to greet me, liked to hang with me, liked listening to my boring epidemiology lectures with me. And she did not go easy into that good night, no she didn't.
Teddy, though, it was clear he was ready so we just made him as comfortable as possible. When I found him, his eyes were closed, so I don't think he even saw it coming. I hope it was not painful for him.
You might think me silly for being sad over a hamster or two, especially when the world is filled with atrocities.
We love who and what we love, though. I think we are better for it. Having pets is a blessing because it teaches us about unconditional love. For some people, I think it teaches them how to love, period. And the loss... well... we all inevitably learn about loss but I guess the moral of the whole story is that love always outweighs the loss. Almost always.
Living a life without regrets is an awesome idea- I think certainly one to shoot for- but we all become hypocites at some point in our live as we change our minds and grow in different directions than our younger selves. Do I regret loving? No. Do I regret loving these delicate little creatures who live such short lives? The pain of it makes me want to but somehow I know that my pain makes Teddy's life or whomever, whatever else, more. I believe that all living things have intrinsic value unto themselves- unrelated to the uses and acknowledgement of The Great Humn Being (detect my sarcasm here, pls).
But when I loved Teddy, when the girls loved him, when Dean would wrinkle up his nose and make that affectionate little chucking noise when a hamster was thrust in his face by one of our kids, Teddy became more than just Teddy-unto-himself. He had a family. He had a family who cared for him- not always perfectly, but well. And he had a family that loved him, not always well, but perfectly. And that means something, at least to me. And maybe somewhere in his little rodent brain, it meant something to him, too.
I'll tell you one thing. Death sucks.
And so now, Teddy's body rests. I'm okay with that. Part of what makes life so interesting and meaningful is that it doesn't, isn't meant to, last forever. And I like to think a little piece of my soul broke off and he took it with him, maybe packed safely in one of his cheek pouches as he headed into the great beyond where our other beloved ones await.
That circle of life stuff is total crock of BS. It doesn't come round like a circle but stretches into eternity- a chain of love that holds us all together, however tenuously, bound by hope.